David Rocco’s Roasted Peppers Zia Franca Style

Expect this Italian side dish from David Rocco's Dolce Vita to be your new favourite recipe this fall. The good news, says the host of the Food Network show, is the longer the vegetables sit, the better they get.

There are many ways to roast peppers: on the barbecue, on a baking tray in the oven or, as Zia Franca does, right on the open flame of a gas stovetop. The trick to roasting a pepper is to make sure you char it on all sides. You actually want the skin to look burnt. Don’t panic: You’re burning the skin, not the pepper. It will give the meat of the pepper a slightly smoky taste.

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup walnut halves
1/2 cup black olives, pitted
1/4 cup capers, drained
2 anchovies, finely chopped (optional)
2 roasted red peppers, sliced into strips
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped


Step 1: Once the peppers are fully roasted, put them in a paper bag and let them hang out. This gives them a steam bath and lifts the skin, making them easier to peel.

Step 2: Take them out of the bag and remove and discard the skin and seeds. You can run them under water to clean off any stubborn bits of charred skin and seeds. At this point, they’re ready to use in your recipe. Or, if they’re in season and you’re making lots, put them into freezer bags. They hold well, and in the middle of winter you’ll have freshly roasted peppers available in minutes.

Step 3: In a saucepan, heat up the olive oil over high heat. Throw in the garlic. Keep an eye on it, and when it gets slightly brown, toss in your walnut halves, olives, capers and anchovies. The anchovies are optional; I’ve made this dish with and without them. If you’re using them, chop them finely. They’ll melt into the oil and give the dish loads of flavour.

Step 4: After a minute or so, lower the heat to medium, add the roasted peppers, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring every so often. Turn off the heat and set the pan aside.

Step 5: Sprinkle in the bread crumbs and parsley and mix to combine. Let cool. Serve at room temperature.

Reprinted with permission from David Rocco’s Dolce Vita (2008 Harper Collins Canada).